Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WCCTC Regionals in San Louis Obispo: Bodily War

When going through your mental checklist of how you've prepared for an olympic-distance race and are ready to kick butt, you probably don't want the following items to cross your mind:
1. I haven't run 6 miles in the past 4 months.
2. My hamstring might rip back out of my bum if I try to run fast.
3. My bike seat is way lower than it should be to accommodate the demanding hamstring.

Some of the things you do want to think:
1. I have over 30 teammates racing with me.
2. This course is freaking gorgeous.
3. If you make it out alive, you can chill at Avila or Pismo Beach with sweet teammates.

My brain was divided going into the West Coast Collegiate Triathlon Conference (what a mouthful) regional championship race, put on by Cal Poly in beautiful San Louis Obispo.

I ditched coachubby to drive up the 101 from LA at the end of spring break to race my first collegiate triathlon. Coachubby drove south to race Oceanside so he could burn 2x the calories that I did then fly up to meet me and proceed to eat the largest frozen yogurt concoction mankind has ever seen.

My hammie decided it no longer wanted to be fully attached to my bum early last November, so I spent November arguing with her, then almost 4 months trying to coax her back into position. Because of lefthammie, I had missed nearly the entire collegiate racing season--my one and only collegiate racing season--and that, I told lefthammie, was totally unacceptable. We were going to run on Saturday whether she liked it or not.

Turns out hammie had quite the masterful battle plan.

About a month earlier, she consulted with a physical therapist who believed lowering Pinkie's (tri bike) saddle would help alleviate what was then diagnosed as sciatic nerve pain. The move angered my quads, a consequence of which I was aware. But I never imagined just how badly the change could demolish them.

Until the race in SLO.

Saturday at Lake Lopez was gorgeous. And so were all of the fit undergrads crowding the transition area.

The swim went off in one giant counterclockwise circle that led us out of the mountain shadows and into the sun (yes!) then straight back toward the sun, into the shadows (no!). A quick run up sand and steps led to T1.

The rubber band holding a shoe up on my bike broke before I started riding. I jumped on Pinky only to come to a dead stop in front of tons of cheering trifans. One shoe whacked the ground because my foot wasn't on or in it. D'oh. So much for the shoe-on-the-bike start being faster.

A quick hill revealed the first crash of the day--and it looked bad. Very bad. The short, steep downhill knocked off a male racer whom EMTs were already tending to.

The rest of the bike was brutally beautiful: gorgeous scenery of the lake, and green hills. A nasty headwind. And lots of...hills. And a wooden bridge that claimed my bike bag as one of its victims for the day. Doubtless it caused a flat or two. At least my extra tube and co2 and tire levers were out there to help if it did.

Coming back up that nasty hill to drop into T2, my quads seized up. Total crampage. Racing hard on a seat that low destroyed my quads. I busted out of T2 to run about 100 yards before I couldn't move. I stopped to stretch, then ran the rest of the race with the most ridiculous amount of inner quad pain I have ever experienced. Quads seized up at even the sight of an up or downhill slope.

And the race ended with a nice little hill.

But I wouldn't have changed it for anything.

Evil quad crampage took my mind off of evil lefthammie, who, until that day, had not let me run 6 miles, or run any faster than a 10 minute mile for more than 30 seconds at a time.

And being on a college team--having dinner the night before, sharing a hotel room, having 30+ other people out there doing the race with me--that was super cool.

And so it's (hopefully) off to Texas in 3 weeks to finally see what collegiate nationals is all about. And to (definitely) get my bum kicked by wicked fast students.

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